Just Another Opinion …

Have you ever found yourself talking to the television during a reality TV show? Perhaps you are watching Survivor, and you cannot understand why the team doesn’t see this one certain person as the manipulative and dishonest person that s/he embodies. Or, perhaps you are watching Big Brother, while someone is talking about their personal plan in the diary room. You wonder how this person can get away with what seems to be such an obvious plan. How do the others in the house not see it?

Yes, when you are removed from a situation, it is easy to see the whole picture. So we think. When it comes to unkindness, I believe we are like the casts of reality TV shows. We are so involved with getting around in life, we fail to see the most obvious things.

I have ‘bully’ on the brain. Though the word ‘bully’ is starting to irritate me. And, I fear the word ‘bully’ may become overused, which may desensitize folks about this real issue. Plus, I don’t think the word ‘bully’ encompasses enough. When I think of bully – I think of one person. Whereas, a word like ‘browbeating’ covers greater territory, in my opinion. And, during this campaign season in the good ol’ US of A, browbeating is commonplace. Regardless of your party, regardless of your interest, browbeating runs rampant throughout politics and throughout your home life.

Where does the browbeating start? Bad things happen all over the place. Situations as big as suspicious packages on board cargo planes intent to do harm or situations as small as a preschool child calling another preschooler ‘stupid’. Now, you may say my examples are on two opposite sides of the spectrum. And, I don’t disagree. However, mean is  mean – and bad is bad. The only difference is the number of casualties. And, if children are speaking ugly to other children, each child has the potential to become a casualty through the browbeating.  A kid, once optimistic and happy, could become bitter and pessimistic because s/he was the receiver of browbeating. Going back to political campaigns, negative ads are not composed from a happy and kind place. Again I ask, where does this – for lack of a better word – crap start?

As I have mentioned, it is election time. (At least, it is election time here in the United States.) Hate speech and negative ad campaigns have been spewing freely for weeks … for months. Negative ad campaigns fill the radio and air waves. And though we may express frustration with the use of negative ad campaigns, we are quick to promote the discretion of our candidate’s opponent, somehow thinking it is okay to promote the negative, as long as it isn’t about your candidate.

How can we, as humans, expect our kids to grow up nice, when we continue the cycle of negativity and hate? We want our politicians to play nice – yet we buy into and help spread their negative. Negativity and browbeating are seeds that grow into ugly trees. And, these trees spread, creating one ugly forest.

Yes, we live in a world of differences, and we live in a world of right and wrong. But honestly – can we not agree to disagree? Can we not learn to compromise, just as we try to encourage our children to compromise?

You have strong political views. You have strong religious views. You have strong views about not being political or not being religious. Great! Sit down. Let’s talk. And, when it comes to making policies, let’s work to find middle ground. There is always middle ground. Always. And, we don’t have to be mean. The browbeating can stop. For some, being nice is harder than being mean. For some, smiling is harder than frowning. Fine. Work at it. Say something nice to someone different each and every day. You can do it. And you can disagree without being nasty. Really, you can. And, you should. Look behind you – your kids are watching you and taking notes. And yes, that is where it starts.

You Are What You Seek

Amherst Shore, Nova Scotia by Jill C.

I am taking a risk here. I am going to take the “sharing too much information” to a new level, even for me. Please brace yourself and understand, what you are about to read may cause you to feel awkward and uncomfortable. You may even feel embarrassed for having read what I am about to share. That’s okay with me, because I am writing this for me and no one else. Feeling a little intrigued?

I had an ah-ha moment over the weekend. I realized, you are what you seek. Furthermore, I realized I have a tendency to seek disapproval, perhaps even disrespect. And, I believe I open myself up to receive disapproval and disrespect by placing a target on myself with my open and honest blog.

In past posts, I mentioned that addictions came in all kinds of flavors. Of course, at the time I was referring to ice cream, chips, etc. But lately, as I have been actively seeking negative comments, I realize that not all addictions are food (or even drug) related.

Today, I am calling out an acquaintance, without naming names. This acquaintance and I have met, and we share some of the same friends. Learning s/he was a writer (of sorts), I had hoped to connect with this person and talk about writing. Unfortunately, a connection was not in the cards. Though this person rarely spoke to me directly, s/he did write about me in the world of Twitter; and, this person did not speak kindly.

The point has come when I need to stop obsessing over this person’s negativity. Okay, the point came, went and is now overdue. I need to put aside my curiosity and need for approval, rather disapproval. Though I do not know the reasoning behind the negative things I have seen written about me, I feel the reason I seek out the negativity is due to another type of addiction.

Am I a stalker? I suppose in a ‘Twitter’ kind of way, I am. I think in this day and age, anyone accessing Twitter and following others is technically a stalker. And, I would actively search to see what sorts of Tweets were being sent to this person. So yes, again, I suppose I was a stalker. And well, I need to remember something my husband has told me for years: “Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to.” Updating his statement to accommodate a Twitter society, I’m guessing he would say, “Don’t go looking for Tweets you don’t want to see.”

In addition to being a Twitter stalker, I spent a period of time living the life of an idiot by actively seeking disapproval and hatred. As I said earlier, this person (and some friends of this person) provided the disapproval and hatred by actively writing things about me that were not kind. According to this person, my craziness amused him/her. I suppose I am glad this person found me amusing, though I cannot say the same for this person. Sadly, the words this person typed about me brought me to tears for at least two reasons: 1.) the words hurt and 2.) I was stupid enough to go looking for it.

I assume that by admitting I have actively sought out Tweets by this person, reaffirms his/her belief that I am crazy. So be it. In the beginning, I wanted to meet this person, who I saw as a writer with large following of readers. And, in the end, I met myself, and I started writing again. At times, this experience was painful for me, but I got something positive out of it.

Amherst Shore, Nova Scotia by Jill C.

We live in a world where thoughts can be shared with countless, nameless, faceless people in seconds. Proverbial filters and holding of tongues are no longer. We feel safe hidden behind the keyboard, no censors holding us back. And, as we hide behind our keyboard safe in anonymity, hatred is spewed easily within seconds and runs rampant like a virus. Just like a porcupine raises its’ quills when needing to defend itself, the person called out for being mean, ugly, disrespectful, insensitive or rude is ready to attack. After all, it’s not the person spewing the hate that is wrong, it is the person actively seeking what is being spewed – right? As I said, my open blog makes me an easy target; no fake names, no hiding behind keyboards and no anonymity here.

I suspect, after reading this, you will once again Tweet about how “[expletive] crazy” I am for stalking you. That’s ironic, too. You’ve labeled me a stalker, yet you actively sought out my blog. Interesting. Anyway, carry on with your negative self.  I’m done. This was my Carly Simon “You’re so vain” composition. I did not deserve and will no longer seek your disapproval and disrespect. “Buh-bye.”